Tagged: money

Social Lending – taking out the middleman!

A couple of years ago, Mark Hunter watched his savings disappear and credit card bills swell when Hollywood shut down during the writers’ strike. It took a while for Mark, a full time feature film writer, to return to work. In the meantime, his wife had given birth to their first child, and he was already $50,000 in debt from starting a film casting business. Instead of heading to the nearest bank to apply for a loan, Mark, 36, went online. He entered the relatively new world of “social lending”, in which borrowers get money directly from individuals, with an online company acting as an intermediary.

Small businesses & Entrepreneurs are finding it extremely tough to get loans from mainstream banks, despite the banks agreeing to help kick-start the economy by assisting fledgling firms. But while the banks are still closing their doors, some Entrepreneurs are finding the vital cash they need online through the growing phenomenon known as social lending or peer-to-peer lending.

Social Lending mixes the concepts of online social networking and eBay, and has found a niche given the current economic and credit crisis. The much more streamlined peer-to-peer lending process leads to borrowers generally getting better interest rates than they can from banks.

How it worked for Mark

Mark went online and signed up on websites such as Zopa, Lending Club, and Prosper and secured a $20,000 loan at a 15.76% interest rate, which is far better than the 18% rate he’d been quoted when applying for a bank loan a few years earlier. His loan is funded by 343 individual contributions.

The way to look at it is really taking out the middleman.

SharePoint – A great tool for Small Businesses

Microsoft SharePoint is a popular web application platform developed by Microsoft for small to large organizations. It is designed as a centralized replacement for multiple web applications and supports various combinations of enterprise website requirements. It is typically associated with web content management and document management systems.

SharePoint’s multi-purpose platform allows for managing and provisioning of intranet portals, extranets and websites, document management and file management, collaboration spaces, social networking tools, enterprise search, business intelligence tooling, process/information integration, and third-party developed solutions. SharePoint can also be used as a web application development platform.

SharePoint is designed to be highly scalable. It is capable of supporting multiple organizations on a single ‘server farm’. Microsoft provides SharePoint as a free product, sells premium editions with additional integration and functionality, and also provides SharePoint as a cloud computing solution as part of BPOS and Office 365. The product is also often sold as a cloud solution by local third-party vendors.

Build your dream company from HOME

The age of the virtual company is upon us. Future historians may look back and declare that the concept of offices began their slow but inevitable extinction some time around 2011 A.D. Our grandchildren will watch movies like Office Space with a touch of bewilderment—did people really have to sit in front of a desktop computer for eight hours every day?

Yes, this is all an exaggeration. After all, some offices will need to provide a space for face-to-face meetings. But it’s hard to argue that the growing popularity of the home-based business model isn’t becoming a characteristic of the entrepreneurial mindset. Now, more than half of all small businesses in the United States are based out of the entrepreneur’s home, according to the Small Business Administration. That’s around 15 million home-based businesses, and represents about $500 billion in revenue every year.

Obviously, the costs of running a business from home is advantageous because it’s cheap.

It’s simple, says Danny Wong, co-founder of Blank Label, a start-up that offers custom men’s shirts. Wong and his co-founders have a completely bootstrapped approach to their business model—and opening an office just didn’t make sense for them. “We just didn’t want to pay,” Wong says. Blank Label is also a paradigm for the 2011 version of a virtual company. They use video chat and Google Wave when the team isn’t together, and they’ve never even met one of their developers, who lives in Orange County. “We video chat with him, but he’s always kind of in the dark,” Wong says.

Read the article on Inc.com

iPhone, Blackberry, Android app development

Mobile applications are transforming the way small businesses acquire new customers, service their clients and manage their operation. The new generation of iPhone, Blackberry and Android mobile devices offer an unmatched level of flexibility and ease-of-use. Irrespective of the size of your company or which industry you operate in, mobile apps enhance your market presence and grow your top line:

Mobile Apps can be categorized:

• Multimedia applications
• Utility applications
• Security applications
• Enterprise applications
• Travel applications
• Internet applications
• Entertainment applications
• Communication applications

Liquid times

Despite the 2009 financial crisis, the year 2010 was a point of time that actually shows two decades of strong worldwide economic growth. In the 1990-2010 periode, the global economy rose from $22.8 trillion to $58 trillion. The leader and champion of this growth, China now exports more stuff per day than it exported for the whole 1978cyear. Since reforms began in China out of poverty has raised 400 million people. Country’s economies changed a lot. 20 years ago Brazil and Turkey were typical examples of developing countries with huge inflation, poor private sector and a fragile political system. Now, these countries show steady growth. That the results that we could see, but what are the factors that changed qualitative and led to this results? According to Yulia Latynina there are 3 broad factors: “The world is liquid. Everything — people, money, and ideas — always flow to the most attractive and investor-friendly locations.”

Money flow

A long time ago when the world was consistent money’s moving was a hard process. Now it is fairly easy to do. The global banking system operates and moves about $2 trillion daily, and that money tend to the country which conditions are most favorable.

The flow of money closely correlates to regionalism and inequality issues. Two main forms of money flow are foreign direct investments came from business firms and investment portfolios, diversified with foreign assets. In the Global Economic Prospects 2011 analytics report that the growth rate for the world economy was 3.9% in 2010 and is likely to be to 3.3% this year, then 3.6 % in 2012.

By the way the losses precipitated by the financial crisis have been enormous. Total capitalization of world stock markets halved in 2008 – about $32 trillion of wealth. The losses in household wealth during 2008 were about $11 trillion in the United States ($8.5 trillion in financial assets and $2.5 trillion in housing assets) and were estimated at $1.5 trillion in the United Kingdom ($0.6 trillion in financial assets and $0.9 trillion in housing assets). Losses of such magnitude have significant wealth effects on consumption and savings. Industrial production fell sharply in many developed and emerging countries and for the first time since 1929, world trade contracted in 2009.( Global Stability Reports; IMF Survey Magazine). But the main question is where to invest the money in terms of the future economy growth?

In Doing Business 2010, there were the top 10 of reformers: Liberia, the United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan and Moldova, Colombia, Egypt, Belarus, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the Kyrgyz Republic. Colombia and Egypt have been top global reformers in four of the past seven years. But those events are timely. Most of the firms in those countries’ economies have suffered from lower demand and a drop in private capital flows. Start or invest into businesses in low-income economies on average still have unresolved problems, such as transferring property, filing taxes or resolving a commercial dispute through the courts.
Moreover there are some problems in the Europe and Central Asia Region. While most other countries have to invest in systems expanding and increase access, the challenge in this region trying to find resources to operate and maintain existing assets to ensure reliable service at acceptable quality. The financial market situation in parts of the Euro Area still seems suspicious to invest in it. And the biggest problem that may appear in the nearest couple years is a huge money flow going into nine middle income countries because of seeking higher yields by large investors.

People migration

As for the flow of people, an August 2010 survey by analytics revealed that 73 percent of the most economically active citizens from developing countries would like to leave the country. By the way the real percentage of immigrants is almost impossible to determine, since no one slams the door: people just live and work in another country, being their own country’s citizens. “More than 210 million people worldwide are living and working outside their home country. Of those, roughly 15 to 20 percent – or as many as 42 million people – are believed to be undocumented guests.”

From one side immigrants willing to take a chance in a new country, that mean high level of motivation and risk taking, their average age is 28, and they contribute to the workforce. From other side immigrants fill niches in the labor market where demand is highest relative to supply, 45% of them have extremely high skill levels that mean higher expectations and lower salary on this area.

The problem is that the unemployment rate in high-level economy countries keep increasing

And expecting to grow in 2011-2012 on1.2%, while the similar rate in Asia-Pacific and BRIC region is much smaller and expecting to be the same. The World Bank forecast shows that the global economy will slow in 2011, and warned that rising commodity prices could spur a return to the sky-high inflation of 2008. The Washington-based development lender estimated the world economy will grow 3.3 percent this year compared with 3.9 percent in 2010, a year of rebound from the 2009 recession. Emerging and developing countries were expected to expand 6.0 percent, more than double the 2.4 percent annual rate of high-income countries, the bank said in its latest Global Economic Prospects report. So, where the people flow will turn?

Rainfall of ideas

Ideas always were free to move. Scientists were the first humans to the XV century who can freely traveled all over Europe. Copernicus studied in Krakow and then in Bologna and Padua. Tycho Brahe was born in Denmark (then owned by Sweden), studied in Leipzig, worked for the Swedish king, and later moved to Hamburg. Kepler worked first in Styria then moved to Prague and then in Silesia. As for now, the situation is catastrophic. Ideas flow more like gas than liquid. Without favorable conditions, they dissipate instantly. There are certain places where you expect research to be happening such as prestigious universities, world renowned colleges and institutions. UK, India, China, Israel, US, Germany, France, Ireland, Japan are in the top-list of where we will get surprises in the nearest 5 years (http://seedmagazine.com/place/). Most of those countries already raise their tuition fee in 2-3 times, so let’s wait for unexpected discoveries.

Finally, the lesson on those years is that in the global world closed economies do not stagnate; they regress, and do it fast. From the country with close economy washed away money, people and ideas.

Franchise’s success myth

Each year about 26% of young businessmen start their first business as a franchise, but just 66% of them are successful. So what are the main problems that ending up with the wrong choice?

First of all it is an initial expense. Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection have a list of nonrefundable franchise fees from tens of thousands to tens hundred thousands of dollars. And it is not all expenses, most of people forget about ongoing royalty payments; operating fees; opening fees and advertising fees; rent equipment; marketing; inventory and business setup. There is no way of “just buy a franchise after viewing some webpage or talking to business owner once”. This kind of business needs a full research of the company’s history, owners, their other business activities and financial history. This information is not open and nobody will show it, so the investigator has to do their own research of how this franchise relate to other businesses within its league.

Secondly, even if the franchise is a well-known brand, including product logo and advertising campaign the new enter owner should have a clear idea of a franchiser’s control. There is an agreement that dictates mostly everything from the prices to employee pay rate. That may include the dress code, hour rates, and hours of operations and so on. Any default of these details may the franchise default without expenses refund.

Thirdly, it is incredibly difficult to work with it by your own. The owner need to have suggests from people who have an access to the right machinery and the right business partners, franchises owners. Start the business is a hard job and it always better to allow professionals do their job. Buy a franchise is not a buy a guarantee of your rich life. But who dares wins.

Rise and Shine above the Crowd: Taste of Video

As businesses struggle to have their websites more interactive and appealing, a video demo can help them do just that.

When PC became a necessity and was offered to more and more public, people started to think about making the Internet as a huge bill board – with lots of websites (post-its) and pictures (pictures). This turned out to be successful and now there are billions of websites on the web doing their job – whatever that maybe.

The idea of having a website for businesses came to entrepreneurs as natural as they could imagine. Some adopted earlier, some did later but eventually everybody had websites on the web, for it was a simple and effective way to approach the public and inform the visitors about what their company does, what it produces and what kind of services it offers.

Then again, some realized that their dry websites filled with text are boring and unattractive to customers. They started to work on visuals, background music, and other improvements that made their websites bloom and shine. They wanted to differentiate their websites from all the other ‘average’ ones.

Now, lots of business owners strive to have websites with both text and visuals that best describe the benefits of using and having their products. It is difficult to judge as visitors to say which websites are helpful and appealing and which are not.

Luckily, some entrepreneurs have their thinking cap on. They began to differentiate their websites again by adding demo videos of products and services.

The world we live is filled with television and online videos that boggle our minds sometimes. However, this is merely a product of its own good: many consumers would rather watch a short length video than read an articulate page-long text that offers valuable information.

Demo videos serve multiple purposes, if done well. First, they operate as an interactive mean to provide visitors with information about the company, products and services. Having a video can effectively lengthen the attention span of the viewers who tend to move on rather quickly, if the website fails to provide them with what they want instantly.

A good demo video can do at least one of three things: educate, engage or entertain. If a video does more than one, that is even better. Its ability to serve multiple roles makes a good return on investment for companies willing to spend the money to have a video – normally, $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the length, animation or involvement of having a demo video can make a good investment for any company looking for a way to rise and shine above the crowd and provide something that resonates with consumers.